New laws will encourage greater recreational and commercial use of Canberra’s lakes by operators of powered boats but also introduce new penalties for threats to public safety such as being affected by alcohol or drugs.
Legislation introduced to the Legislative Assembly last week will allow electric powered boats to operate on Canberra’s lakes without a permit if they travel at less than 10 knots, in line with New South Wales.
It will also mean commercial operators will only need to obtain one approval to use Lake Burley Griffin, Kingston Harbour and Molonglo Reach instead of having to apply to the ACT Government and the National Capital Authority, with new cross-jurisdictional arrangements.
There will also be fines of up to $7,500 and/or up to one year in prison for anybody committing offences which pose a risk to public safety such as drug and alcohol offences on the lakes.
The new drug and alcohol laws will be consistent with road transport legislation and enforceable by the ACT Water Police.
Rules relating to navigation, signals, lighting, towing and loading for boats will also be modernised, consistent with those in surrounding NSW waters and other jurisdictions.
The Lakes Act has not been reviewed since 1976 and Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said a more streamlined licensing and approval regime would reduce red tape for the increasing number of people wanting to enjoy Canberra’s lakes.
He said the bill would also ensure that Canberra’s waterways remained safe places for all Canberrans to enjoy.
“Our lakes are becoming increasingly popular for recreational activity, and we want to encourage Canberrans to use these beautiful lakes whilst also supporting the safe recreational use of our waterways, including Lake Ginninderra, Lake Tuggeranong, Molonglo Reach and Kingston Harbour,” he said.
Looking forward to enjoying Canberra’s lakes after the new legislation is passed? What other issues do you encounter when you visit our lakes that you feel the Government should be paying attention to? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.